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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2019-12-12 12:43
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Thank you very much.
Certainly, as members of Parliament and senators, we want to ensure the health and safety of people who are working for us. I think we have to recognize the strain that has been put on this group. However, again, in the last Board of Internal Economy, we had this discussion about there having been an increase of 60% or so in the activities of associations in the last number of years. Is there any cap in place? As the whip, I can tell you that members of Parliament do like to travel internationally, and obviously they've done that more and more over the last number of years.
While we do have to support that function, is there any cost control on that other side to prevent the growth rate from being 33% or 27% a year? Obviously, if the travel is happening, we need to have support staff, but what are we doing to ensure that this number doesn't just continue to increase exponentially year over year?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-12-06 10:39
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I would like to thank you, Mr. Stanton, for your leadership on this issue.
I think this is something that our members were looking for, and I believe that it dovetails very nicely with the Speaker's ruling on this matter in the House of Commons. From my perspective, this gives us the assurance that we need that the rights of all members will be taken into account.
I understand that the JIC, like this body, operates on a consensus basis, so it wouldn't simply be the case that the majority would have the ability to take a decision that doesn't respect the minority, which I think is, from our perspective, what this has been about from the outset.
I want to thank you and the team for coming forward with a compromise that I think will allow us to move forward in a good way.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2018-11-01 12:09
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Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Speaker.
I appreciate the overview, and I do recall being seized with the issue of funding earlier this year.
I want to talk about the activities and expenditures of parliamentary associations. It's been my understanding for a number of years that these are essentially non-partisan associations in which members with interests in particular countries or particular causes get together and represent Canada on the world stage and often host people and other delegations in Canada as well.
As a result of activities that occurred this very week—your visit is timely—we find ourselves in what I would consider a very grave situation relating particularly to the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association—
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-02 11:23
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It takes the wisdom of the Speaker to decide.
We were talking about the activities of parliamentary associations. I don't know how much information you can give us or whether this needs to be pursued in another venue, but I was very concerned to learn that for some trips, specifically to countries like China, there has been a marked increase in the information required of members of Parliament in order to participate, some of it relating to extended family members and even to family members who are no longer family members, in the case of a divorce or something like that.
We've seen cases that have involved members of our caucus being denied entry to a country, but the parliamentary association travel continued even though members of the delegation had been denied entry into a country through no fault of their own.
I wonder if there's a policy that needs to be developed by the JIC or by the parliamentary associations to prevent this from happening in the future, or if you have any comments on why some members would proceed with the trip when the host country has shown that level of contempt for members of Parliament.
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-02 11:39
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Referring to the same table that Mr. LeBlanc was referring to, I have a couple of questions. Are the limits on the value of gifts the same as the limits that a department or a ministry may give, or is that under a separate regulation?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-02 11:40
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I would be interested if perhaps you could come back and just give us the average value. When I was a public office holder in the former government, we were often signing major treaties or agreements in principle with large indigenous groups, and even though they were historic national events, we were still limited to a very modest amount. I would hope that would be a constant for the JIC as well.
My primary question revolves around per diems and working meals. In all cases, the per diem amount listed in all five years is significantly higher than the hospitality and working meals. I have personally not travelled with a parliamentary association, but it's my understanding from those who have that they're very structured events. They are full of working meals, high-level dinners, and whatnot. It surprises me, quite frankly, that the per diem rate is that much higher.
Are members required to indicate...? Do they subtract when they receive a fancy dinner from their per diem? Is there an audit function to make sure, when that paperwork comes back, that the administrators looking through it will see that breakfast was provided at the hotel, there was a working lunch and working dinner, and those amounts were subtracted, or are members simply getting a five-day per diem for a five-day trip?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-02 11:47
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Thank you.
It indicates on the slide there that the participants have decreased from five to four on average per activity. As I am one who has not taken one of these trips, can you give me the average support function? How many support staff accompany the parliamentarians on a typical trip?
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View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
View Mark Strahl Profile
2017-11-02 12:05
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If we are going to ask for more information, I want to get some thoughts on the record and ask some questions as well.
As has been said, there's been a near-50% increase in funding, going from $2.1 million to $3.1 million. We've learned that the resulting increase in activities is having a significant impact on IIA staff. None of us want to see that, but there are two solutions: one is to increase the staff so that they no longer feel that pressure, and the other is to reduce the level of activity, to rightsize the level of activity with the current staffing levels.
That's a question that I would have. What level of activity would work? If 83 trips—travel activities, whatever that means, incoming, outgoing—are too much for the current group, I would like to know what the right number of trips for the current group would be. I think that's what the JIC should be looking at.
They should present us with two scenarios. One is the expansionist scenario of “We have a million dollars extra, and here's what we need to support that.” I understand there are two different funding envelopes, but if we can't support an extra million dollars in travel, then we shouldn't have an extra million dollars in travel. That's my perspective on it. They need to give us an indication of how many trips they can take.
I can tell you, as a new whip, seeing all of these travel requests come across my desk.... As they said in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come. If you offer a trip, members of Parliament will line up. Parliamentarians will take the trip. If the trips are reduced, fewer members will travel, yes, but I think we need to have a rationalization here. Just because they were granted a significant amount of money doesn't mean it all needs to be spent.
That's what I would like to see the JIC and staff come back with—what they can do with the current staffing. It would be incumbent on the JIC to do that within the current funding envelope for the staffing group.
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